We parents prefer not to think about it. It’s unthinkable yet entirely within the realm of possibility. Innocent children are shot all the time in the United States. Innocent adults are too. In 2019 alone, 40,000 people died of gunshot wounds in the U.S.

Mass shootings at schools and bars and churches and concerts are routine enough that they have lost their impact on our collective psyche. We can put them out of mind in a matter of days. That’s unhealthy.

Contrast that with the March mosque shootings in New Zealand. Rather than put the shocking and horrific act of violence out of mind, public officials there reacted by organizing a country-wide gun buyback. It will cost about $200 million, but in New Zealand it’s understood that horrific violence by firearms demands immediate action.

Friday, June 7, is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and it kicks off Wear Orange Weekend. Following the 2013 death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago, where she was gathered in a park with friends and fell victim to a misplaced bullet, her loved ones organized Wear Orange Weekend. People across the U.S. wear orange, the color worn by hunters to protect themselves, to raise awareness about gun violence, a perfectly preventable pandemic.

Santa Barbara has a gun buyback program organized by the Coalition Against Gun Violence. This annual event will be held from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, June 15 at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Over the past five years, the event has removed 1,200 guns from our communities. Anonymous people voluntarily turn over functional firearms for gift cards, and the event has been highly successful. If you have a firearm sitting around your home, bring it in. Who needs a gun?


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